Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75, or the “Wolf Pack,” held a change of command ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), June 15, 2017, in the Pacific Ocean.
During the ceremony, Cmdr. Michael E. Madrid, a native from Vallejo, Calif., relieved Cmdr. John C. Kiefaber, a native of Great Falls, Va., as Commanding Officer of HSM-75.
Under Kiefaber’s command, the squadron completed flight deck certifications, Tailored Ship Training Assessment, Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training, Air Wing Fallon and Composite Training Unit Exercise.
“It has been an honor to lead the most accomplished helicopter squadron in the fleet,” said Kiefaber. “I was in the ‘Wolf Pack’ earlier in my career, and to come back as the skipper has truly been an honor and a privilege. The hard work and dedication of every Sailor at HSM-75, day-in and day-out, is truly impressive and continues to make this job so rewarding.”
Capt. Robert Westendorff, a 1992 graduate of Kansas State University, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, awarded Kiefaber with the Meritorious Service Medal.
Madrid will be replacing Kiefaber after serving 15-months as the squadron’s executive officer.
“It’s an amazing feeling to have the opportunity to lead the squadron as we head out
on deployment,” said Madrid. “We have spent more than a year preparing for the mission, and I look forward to seeing our Sailors and aircrew put their training into action. The Wolf Pack is forging ahead on this WESTPAC cruise, ready to take on any challenges. We will be successful!”
HSM-75 is homeported on Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. It currently employs MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for its primary missions: surface and anti-submarine warfare. The Seahawk’s operational capabilities enable the squadron to conduct all-weather operations in open ocean and littoral environments as an integral part of CVW 11, in support of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11. HSM-75’s secondary missions include vertical replenishment, search and rescue, medical evacuation and command and control.
Kiefaber will be joining the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as the Operations Officer.
HSM-75 is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment with Nimitz and the rest of CVW 11 and CSG 11 to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean providing capabilities to geographic combatant commanders for any national interests or responses.
Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leon Wong & LT. Shelby Gillis